Photo: Anthony Kwan (Getty)

Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai, a pro Hearthstone player from Hong Kong, ended a stream earlier this week with a statement of support for those engaged in months-long protests against local police and government. As a result of this, Blizzard has ruled that he violated competition rules, and have handed out a heavy punishment.

In the stream, part of the broadcast of the Asia-Pacific Grandmasters, Blitzchung wore a mask (similar to those worn by protesters) and said “Liberate Hong Kong. Revolution of our age!”

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Blizzard, clearly aware of the political repercussions in the Chinese market for such a statement, have determined that Blitzchung violated a competition rule, which states:

2019 HEARTHSTONE® GRANDMASTERS OFFICIAL COMPETITION RULES v1.4 p.12, Section 6.1 (o)

Engaging in any act that, in Blizzard’s sole discretion, brings you into public disrepute, offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages Blizzard image will result in removal from Grandmasters and reduction of the player’s prize total to $0 USD, in addition to other remedies which may be provided for under the Handbook and Blizzard’s Website Terms.

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Blitzchung’s punishment is an immediate removal from Grandmasters, a withholding of prize money for his participation and a ban from taking part in Hearthstone esports “for 12 months beginning from Oct. 5th, 2019 and extending to Oct. 5th, 2020".

Blizzard also add that, despite them physically ducking from his comments on air and immediately cutting to a commercial, the company “will also immediately cease working with both casters” involved in airing Blitzchung’s statement.

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Blizzard end their ruling by saying “While we stand by one’s right to express individual thoughts and opinions, players and other participants that elect to participate in our esports competitions must abide by the official competition rules.”

It’s been a bad week for anyone wanting to “stand by one’s right to express individual thoughts and opinions” when it comes to China.

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